As much as I’m all for the journey being more important than the destination, some adventures just get better upon arrival, especially when hush puppies are involved. After our grand cross country adventure, I was rewarded by getting to explore the city my sister currently calls home. Courtney’s job has moved her around about every six months for the past two years, so visiting her is always new and exciting. It gives me a chance to visit cities I’ve never been too while spending time with one of my favorite people. Right now, she’s living in Durham, North Carolina. The visit was brief and Courtney had to work from home a bit, which honestly wasn’t a problem for me because it gave me a chance to sleep in, but we had one full day of exploring.
Highlights from the visit
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles
I firmly believe that I belong in the south (my stomach does at least.) If you told me I was only allowed to eat biscuits & gravy, shrimp & grits, and chicken & waffles for the rest of my life, I would NOT complain. Wow,the south really has a theme going with delicious pairings. When we arrived at Dame’s there was a large crowd and an hour long wait, but there was a bookstore next door so the time flew by. After contemplating the nearly hundreds of combinations of waffles, schmears, and cuts of chicken, I settled on sweet potato waffles with maple pecan schmear and drumsticks. Upon Courtney’s insistence, I opted for a side of mac & cheese. This wasn’t just any mac & cheese though, the classic creamy favorite was dressed up with a secret spice blend and a holy trinity of cheese: cheddar, Monterey, and parmesan. Definitely made it in my top five. While waiting for our brunch to come, Courtney and I played a rousing game of Pictionary on the paper table cloth and since neither of us was really keeping score, I’d consider the game to be a draw.
I’ve never met a bookshop I didn’t like. My sister and I have a lot in common and one of our shared loves is for books. Whether it’s reading or just browsing through bookstores, we both can go on for hours before tiring. Natural sunlight poured in the front window, shedding light over a wide selection of the most gently used of books and lovely greeting cards. I was tempted by a Shakespeare anthology, a cookbook dedicated to bread, and several books in foreign languages I don’t know in the slightest, but had pretty covers. Knowing how little space I had in my duffle for the flight home, I tragically left empty handed. Courtney is a true bibliophile, and sometimes I worry that it’s verging on intervention worthy, but she managed to escape the store having bought only three books.
Court has been living in Durham far too long to have not visited Dolly’s before, but somehow, although it is located just down the block from her favorite breakfast spot, she had in fact not yet explored this zany vintage and gift shop. Dolly’s is a little bit like a unicorn threw up on Katherine Ross’ closet. I immediately gravitated toward the back of the store where 60’s style dresses were hanging from the walls. As much as my stomach belongs in the south, my soul belongs in the sixties. Maybe not at the same time though… I also spotted a pair of green glasses! Despite how eye catching these shades were, I thought it’d be better to stick to the ones I already have. I bought an adorable mug as a gift, but the details are a secret until it’s recipient returns from Florida.
American Tobacco Campus
After shopping, Courtney and I wandered around the American Tobacco Campus. Most of the city seemed to still be on Christmas break, so it was calm and quiet there. A narrow river runs along the old train platform between beautiful historic brick buildings filled with offices and restaurants. The Christmas decorations were still up which threw me off because of the lack of snow and cold, but the festive flair was lovely nevertheless.
I love plants more than I love books. I think. Duke Gardens is Durham’s local botanic garden and as the name suggests is located within Duke University’s campus. We began our visit late in the day, so we didn’t have much time to meander through the wooded gardens before sunset, but the dusky views were still gorgeous. Of course I enjoyed admiring the flowers and foliage, but the most memorable sight was a man in bright orange climbing and resting on the roof of the Gazebo.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to meet Courtney’s boyfriend, Dylan and her friend, Monica. After introductions, we split into teams and played a few rounds of Codenames, a strategic card game that, let me tell you, is not rated for players aged 18+ and up for no reason. A prime way to meet your sister’s boyfriend for the first time for sure…We couldn’t find one of the game cards, but luckily Courtney had a wallet size of my yearbook photo on hand, perfect for replacing a missing card. After an embarrassingly long time, we realized that the missing card was the flip side of another card and began to play. After Dylan left, Courtney, Monica, and I went to see Sing! which was truly inspiring and adorably entertaining.
Before leaving for the airport the next day, Courtney and I grabbed arepas, which are like Venezualen pita pockets. My shredded pork arepa was crunchy on the outside and sweet and tangy on the inside. The bright dipping sauces, neither of which I had any idea what they were while eating them added even more flavor and spice.
Hopefully Courtney will stay in Durham a while because I’d love to go back, but if not, I can’t wait to explore a new city with her.